3D Design
Sep 2023
Gregory Markov

How to Set Up Blender: Download, Install, and Customize

Blender is a powerful, open-source, and completely free 3D software. Its versatility allows you to learn every pipeline stage using just one suite. Moreover, mastering Blender gives you a solid foundation, making switching to other CG solutions easier.

In this guide, we'll walk you through the process of downloading, setting up, and customizing Blender.

#1. Downloading and Installing Blender

As Blender is free, you don’t need to buy anything. Plus, with a relatively small installation file size of around 300 MB, you'll be up and running in no time.

  1. Head over to the Blender website at www.blender.org.
  2. Click the download button and wait till the download is complete.
  3. Once downloaded, execute the *.msi file and follow the on-screen instructions to install Blender.
  4. After installation, launch Blender using the icon on your desktop.
If you're not using Windows, ensure to select the appropriate version for your operating system from the given options.

#2. Installing Add-ons in Blender

You can extend the Blender functionality by installing add-ons. Here's a quick rundown of some pivotal built-in add-ons you want to enable right after installation:

  • Node Wrangler: Provides handy shortcuts for managing nodes.
  • Copy Attributes: Improves the copy and paste tool, enabling the transfer of attributes between objects.
  • Extra Objects: Provides more objects in the Add > Mesh menu, introducing features like a rock generator, mathematical functions, pipe joints, and more.
  • Modifier Tools: Adds four buttons in the modifier stack, including apply, delete, preview toggle, and open/close.
  • Image as Planes: Useful for importing images as planes, often used for projecting blueprints in scenes.

Activating Built-in Add-ons

  1. Go to Edit > Preferences.
  2. Navigate to the Add-ons tab.
  3. Use the search bar to find a specific add-on or browse through categories.
  4. Click the checkbox next to an add-on to enable it.

Integrating Third-party Add-ons

You can find almost everything on Blender Addons — a web catalog listing both free and paid add-ons, along with the links to download them.

  1. After downloading a third-party add-on, it will typically be a .zip file.
  2. Go to Edit > Preferences and navigate to the Add-ons tab.
  3. Click on Install at the top-right.
  4. Navigate to and select the downloaded *.zip file.
  5. Once installed, the add-on should appear in the list. Activate it by checking the checkbox.

#3. Adjusting the Blender UI

UI Scaling

If Blender's default interface scale doesn't match your screen dimensions or is uncomfortable for your eyes, it's easy to tweak.

  1. Go to Edit > Preferences.
  2. Under the Interface tab, you can adjust the Resolution Scale. This allows you to make the UI elements larger or smaller based on your preference or screen size.

Modifying Themes

The availability of diverse themes and flexible interface color settings not only offers visual variety but also enhances the software's accessibility.

  1. Go to Edit > Preferences.
  2. Navigate to the Themes tab.
  3. Select from a list of default themes and click on a theme to apply it.
  4. Select a particular interface element from the list below and adjust its colors for deeper customization.
  5. After making changes, you can save your custom theme by clicking on the [+] icon at the top-right of the theme selector.

Changing Navigation Settings

Blender's navigation relies on the mouse wheel. Holding the wheel, by default, lets you rotate your view around a preset point in space. To achieve a more intuitive experience, you can adjust it to rotate around the selected element.

  1. Go to Edit > Preferences.
  2. Open the Navigation tab.
  3. Click the Orbit Around Selection checkbox.

Completing all these steps will help you dive into learning and using Blender faster, making your 3D modeling experience more enjoyable and efficient.

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